The universal sign for work- coffee. Be it physical, formal, collaborative, or leisurely, there is coffee to be consumed, often multiple times per day and on occasion free of charge. Even electing a new pope requires the diverse drink, The reason why? Well, energy of course! Actually, while this is the most commonly associated by-product of coffee-drinking, there are other reasons why more than 400 billion cups are consumed each year.
Surprise! Coffee keeps you alert. Caffeine, the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world, is a stimulant. It blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain, which lets the neurotransmitters like epinephrine and dopamine that are associated with alertness run wild. There are many studies showing that ingesting caffeine helps workers perform better, especially if they’re working when their circadian clocks say they should be sleeping. Researchers studying night-shift workers found coffee is effective in counteracting any “sleepy effect,” and caffeinated shift workers made fewer errors than their decaffeinated colleagues.
Coffee eases the pain of working at a desk. There’s a reason why computer programmers are so wired: Consuming caffeine has been found to ease pain in the neck, shoulders, forearms, and wrists that are often experienced by those of us who are chained to our keyboards.
Coffee is a social lubricant. Researchers from MIT found that employees who take coffee breaks together are more productive. The study tracked a group of workers in a call center and found that when coffee breaks were scheduled so that co-workers could take them at the same time, their performance improved.
Even without the coffee, coffee shops are good places to work. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research explored the effects noise has on creativity. They found that a low to moderate level of ambient sound, like the one found in your favorite coffee shop working spot, improves creativity. A tech startup in Virginia developed Coffitivity, a coffee shop noise simulator.
Coffee may be a life saver, especially for older workers. The US National Institutes of Health found a link between coffee-drinking and lower risks of death. People in their 50s and 60s who drink three or more cups of coffee a day have a 10% lower risk of death compared to those who don’t don’t drink coffee at all.
It even works with decaf. The same NIH study found that removing caffeine didn’t change coffee’s life-extending aura.
This article originally appeared on Qz.com.
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